When I first joined the volunteer first aid squad in June of 2002, I had already been a firefighter for about 3 years. I honestly expected them to be very similar atmospheres. I made it clear to the squad when I started that I was going to be a firefigter first. At least I had thought it was clear. See, about a year before I joined the first aid squad, the fire department decided they were going to start an EMS unit to help the local volunteer squads. At the time, in the firehouse, EMS was considered a second priority, meaning that if I went to a working fire with the fire department, they'd use me for firefighting, as opposed to EMS. They did have some people who did not have any fire training, who would be used for EMS at the fire jobs. I wanted that to continue on after joining the squad.
I joined the EMS unit in the fire station, and went through training to become an EMT, while most of the guys were content with a lower level of training. When I graduated EMT class, and the fire department started taking runs (I tested 2 weeks prior to the runs commencing), I was an EMT running with a bunch of first responders, and we were ALL inexperienced, so we had no institutional memory to help us. After a couple of months, I realized that I wasn't learning anything, and my comfort level was improving. I decided that I needed to start running EMS with people who could teach me better skills and help me learn, but I still wanted my priority to be on the fire station.
I first realized that EMS is a completely different animal from the fire house the first time I was at the squad house and a run was dispatched. See, my adrenaline jumped, and I was half-way to the bay when the guy I was meeting with motioned me back to my seat and told me there was a duty crew who would be handling the call. We would stay at the station and provide a backup crew if necessary.
I was floored, and couldn't believe what he was telling me. I was pumped, ready to go save a life, and then I was sitting on my hands.
Later in my time at the squad house, I would learn to throughly enjoy the small unit cohesion that I got to experience in the squad house. I enjoyed it so much, that I started spending less and less time at the fire house, and more and more time at the squad house. I loved my crew like family, and in some ways, I'm closer to them than I am to my own family.